US men get back on track in basketball, France keep rolling | Inquirer Sports
Close  

US men get back on track in basketball, France keep rolling

/ 01:36 PM July 29, 2021
Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Basketball - Men - Group A - United States v Iran - Saitama Super Arena, Saitama, Japan - July 28, 2021. Zach Lavine of the United States in action with Mohammad Hassanzadeh of Iran

Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Basketball – Men – Group A – United States v Iran – Saitama Super Arena, Saitama, Japan – July 28, 2021. Zach Lavine of the United States in action with Mohammad Hassanzadeh of Iran REUTERS/Brian Snyder

SAITAMA, Japan—The United States got back on track on Wednesday in its quest for a fourth consecutive Olympic men’s basketball gold medal with a 54-point blowout win over Iran, while France defeated the Czech Republic to keep its impressive Games start going.

The U.S. was buoyed by a barrage of three pointers led by guard Damian Lillard, who hit six of them in the first half, helping his team shoot 63% from beyond the arc as they built a commanding 60-30 lead en route to a 120-66 victory.

ADVERTISEMENT

Lillard, who plays for the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers, finished with a game-high 21 points. His team dropped in a total of 19 threes in the rout.

The win may allay concerns about their medal credentials in Tokyo after they suffered a shock defeat by France on Sunday, losing at the Olympics for the first time since 2004.

FEATURED STORIES

Stout defense and sweet shooting catapulted the United States to victory, as they forced turnovers and held Iran’s best player, guard Behnam Yakhchalidehkordi, to only 6 points, a far cry from his first game of the tournament, when he had 23 points.

Lillard said after the game that the team’s defensive urgency fuelled their offense.

“If we play the way we played tonight, we’ve got a great chance to accomplish the goal we set out before coming here,” he said.

USA coach Gregg Popovich also commended his team’s performance.

“We played good defense for a long period of time, shared the ball throughout the game very, very, well, against a very hard-working Iranian team,” he said.

Kevin Durant, who was saddled with foul trouble in the game against France, turned in a terrific all around performance, finishing with 10 points, five rebounds, five assists, two steals, three blocks and no turnovers.

“He is Kevin Durant, you expect him to be able to bounce back and that’s what he did,” Lillard said of the Brooklyn Nets star.

ADVERTISEMENT

Durant’s great execution was epitomized in one possession midway through the third quarter, when he blocked a shot, retrieved the ball and threw a pass to Bam Adebayo racing up court for a dunk.

FRANCE ROLLING

France's Vincent Poirier jumps for the ball next to Czech Republic's Jaromir Bohacik (L)  in the men's preliminary round group A basketball match between France and Czech Republic during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama on July 28, 2021. (

France’s Vincent Poirier jumps for the ball next to Czech Republic’s Jaromir Bohacik (L) in the men’s preliminary round group A basketball match between France and Czech Republic during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama on July 28, 2021. (Photo by Aris MESSINIS / AFP)

France followed its stunning upset of the U.S. with another impressive 97-77 victory over the Czech Republic in the late tip-off match on Wednesday.

Evan Fournier poured in 21 points to lead all scorers after his impressive 28-point performance against the Americans.

Czech started the game sizzling hot, hitting 8-of-9 three pointers in the first quarter, but led by only six as Fournier’s 12 points kept France in the game.

But the Czech team failed to hit another three pointer the rest of the way, as France intensified its defense and blew the game open in the second half. They led by as many as 26 points at one point.

“We increased our aggressivity during the game and this made the difference,” France guard Nando de Colo said after the game.

Jan Vessely, whose 19 points led the Czech scoring, said they will try to give their best against the United States, who they play next.

“We have nothing to lose. We can play free,” he said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Australia edged Italy 86-83 in an entertaining match-up at the Saitama Super Arena, led by Jock Landale’s 18 points to improve to 2-0.

Italy forward Simone Fontecchio’s game-high 22 points was not enough to push his side over the top. They gave up crucial offensive rebounds down the stretch that contributed to their loss.

Overall, Australia grabbed 16 offensive rebounds that fuelled 17 second chance points.

Italy takes on Nigeria next on Saturday, while France faces Iran.

Earlier, Germany beat Nigeria 99-92 to register its first win of the tournament, reviving its hopes of qualifying for the next round. It faces Australia next.

First- and second-place teams from each group automatically advance to the knock-out phase, while the two best third-placed teams will also move on.

RELATED STORIES

US men’s basketball team falls to France in first Olympics loss since 2004

Get the hottest sports news straight into your inbox

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.
Read Next
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: France, Iran, Tokyo Olympics, USA
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.

Subscribe to our sports news

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and
acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.



© Copyright 1997-2021 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.